Ellis Fischel Cancer Center commits to high-tech innovation

Monday, March 18, 2013 | 7:46 p.m. CDT; updated 12:11 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, March 19, 2013
University Hospital opened the new $50 million Patient Care Tower on Monday. It includes a ROBOT-Rx, an automated medication dispensing system that can disperse up to 3,000 doses of medicine daily.

COLUMBIA — Robots and high-tech tracking monitors have replaced old school health tools in the new home of the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center.

The $50 million center, which will replace the old Ellis Fischel on Business Loop 70, will occupy the first two floors of University Hospital’s new tower. It features some of the leading health technology in the nation to meet today's cancer treatment needs, officials said.

Open house

WHAT: MU Health Care will hold an open house for the public to unveil the new Ellis Fischel Cancer Center.

WHERE: The new center is on the first two floors of University Hospital's new patient tower at 1 Hospital Drive.

WHEN: From 4 to 6 p.m. Tuesday. An official grand opening is scheduled for March 25.


“Missouri’s oldest cancer center is now its newest,” Paul Dale, interim medical director of Ellis Fischel, said.

Patients now will stay in "smart rooms" surrounded by electric devices and monitors that allow doctors to get a “snapshot” of patients' vital information. The smart rooms are the most advanced in the state of Missouri, MU Health Care spokesman Colin Planalp said.

“Technology improves the work flow of our nurses,” system administrator Benjamin Long said.

The technology also will extend to the center's pharmacy, where a robot will handle up to 25,000 drugs and is expected to package and distribute 3,000 doses per day.

“When there are less humans involved, our work is more accurate,” pharmacy manager Neil Schmidt said.  

The robot works inside an octagonal cage, where it picks the drugs through a bar code system and puts them inside an envelope. It is the only pharmacy in central Missouri that has this kind of technology.

The Robotic Medication Dispensing system automates 90 percent or more of a hospital’s daily medication volume and is used by one-third of medium and large North American hospitals, according to the website of McKesson Distribution Solutions, which designed the system.

Schmidt said the robot is 99.9 percent accurate.

The new tower also is designed to foster a bright, healthy and clean environment. Large windows allow natural light to flood the building, and designers tried to reduce the impact of the structure on the natural environment. Chairs are arranged to face the window panels.

Mitch Wasden, chief executive officer and chief operating officer of the MU Health Center, said there have been efforts to blend the past with the future by pulling in features of the old building, such as its artwork.

There are still no decided plans for the old Ellis Fischel at Business Loop 70 and Garth Avenue.

The Ellis Fischel relocation is part of a larger $190 million expansion of University Hospital, which will double the size of the original hospital built in 1956. The new tower includes 90 private patient rooms, six new operating rooms and shelled space for six more to be built. 

Money for the project comes mainly from revenue bonds but also from philanthropic donations and fundraisers such as the Ellis Fischel Gala.

Tim Wolfe, president of the University of Missouri System, emphasized the economic boost the new hospital tower will bring to the region. He said it will create 97 jobs, 44 of them for nurses.

"At a time when many hospitals are cutting staff, deferring capital improvements and even closing, MU Health Care is creating new jobs, caring for a growing number of patients, managing its financial resources wisely and positioning itself to provide world-class care to Missourians," Wolfe said.

Inpatients will move from the old center to the new one beginning Wednesday. Outpatient services will begin at the new center March 25.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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Ellis Smith March 19, 2013 | 9:04 a.m.

Thanks for the information concerning Ellis Fischel. My wife died there of cancer in 1981; they couldn't save her life, but my daughter and I appreciated the care she received.

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